How We Found Our Northern Minnesota Homestead

If the idea of a Minnesota homestead appeals to you, consider looking in northern Minnesota. This couple found an abandoned 120-acre farm for just $42 an acre.

| January/February 1972

Is the money you've been saving for a place in the country burning a hole in your bankbook because you can't seem to find a farm that you can afford? Maybe you should take a look at northern Minnesota, where good land still sells for under $50 an acre. That how we found the property that became our Minnesota homestead.

My wife and I started our search for acreage in Oregon and northern California, but soon discovered that prices there were sky-high on everything but the largest tracts. So we sent away for the Strout and United real estate catalogs and—after reading them carefully—decided there were only four areas of the United States where land fell within our reach: the Deep South, Appalachia, northern New England, and the upper Midwest.

After hashing over the pro's and con's of homesteading in each region, we agreed to take a closer look at Minnesota and Wisconsin and once again turned to the experts by writing United and requesting a survey of the farms available there. Since we were planning to visit relatives in Minnesota anyway, we asked that the information be mailed to that address.

When we arrived at our relatives' place, we found a stack of folders waiting for us. Of the 200 or so properties described, about 20 seemed especially appealing and the majority of those interesting tracts were in northern Minnesota. We were soon back in the car and heading north.

We talked to several realtors in Bimidji and thought we were asking a lot when we told them we wanted an old farm of about 100 acres, fairly isolated and available for a down payment of less than $1,500. To our happy surprise, several of the agents had something to offer!

The first place we looked at was really nice: 120 acres, mostly wooded, with a small cabin and a shallow well for $4,900 ($1,500 down). The second farm we were shown was even more beautiful: 159 acres, six-room house, two sheds, a deep well and mostly open land for $5,900 ($1,500 down). We were ready to buy but resolved to look further to see if there were any better deals around. There were — and still are!

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